A free mobile app from NIOSH, called NLE Calc, offers a quick and simple way for workers to assess their risk for injury before they manually lift an object. The app is based on the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation, an internationally recognized standard for safe lifting.

The app calculates the lifting index, which is the ratio of the load lifted to the recommended weight limit for the lifting task, and displays the risk level as yellow (low), orange (medium) or high (red). It then gives workers the option of using the composite lifting equation to optimize multiple complex lifting tasks, such as lifting many objects of various weights in succession or lifting objects in awkward positions.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders cause one-third of work-related injuries resulting in missed workdays, costing about $45 billion to $54 billion annually in lost productivity and treatment, according to estimates from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.